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The New Mexico Health Equity Partnership Collaboration in Support of Healthy Children, Families and Communities

H

ealth doesn’t just happen as a result of visits to the doctor’s office, diet and exercise. Policy and planning decisions that shape where people live, work, learn and play impact quality of life, as well as physical, mental and spiritual well-being. In New Mexico, the quality of health of many individuals, as well as communities, can be traced to economic, environmental and social conditions that are deeply rooted in historical trauma and the pronounced imbalance of geographic resources. The New Mexico Health Equity Partnership (NMHEP), funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Santa Fe Community Foundation, is working to strengthen the capacity of low-income New Mexico communities and communities of color to advocate for systemic and policy changes that address institutionalized inequities based upon race, class, gender and geography. The Partnership’s goal: healthy children, families and communities.

The NMHEP comprises local, state and national partners, including the National Collaborative for Health Equity, New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils, New Mexico Community Data Collaborative, New Mexico Department of Health– Health Promotion, Human Impact Partners and Con Alma Health Foundation– Healthy People, Healthy Places. The Partnership’s extended network includes a broad base of community members, advocacy groups, civic organizations, youth groups, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, legal service providers, universities and other educational entities, government agencies and other allies working closely

© Seth Roffman

The partners evaluate how a proposed plan, project or policy will affect community health if implemented.

L-R: The NMHEP team: Jessi Jensen, David Gaussoin, Jinelle Scully, María Gallegos

with NMHEP-affiliated organizations. NMHEP also recognizes that effective policy change must have the support of key decision makers, powerbrokers and other leaders. Based on the belief that the solutions to New Mexico’s challenges lie within the resilient fabric of the state’s diverse communities, the NMHEP strives to create healthy conditions for families by actively engaging in advocacy that informs decision-making processes. NMHEP’s work is structured around three key efforts: • PLACE MATTERS (PM): national initiative of the National Collaborative for Health Equity. There are four PM teams in the New Mexico counties of Bernalillo, Doña Ana, McKinley and San Juan. • New Mexico Tribal and Community Health Councils: Health councils work with communities to address important local health issues based on local health needs and resources. • Health Impact Assessments (HIAs): There are 10 HIA teams in New Mexico. HIAs are a structured process where NMHEP’s diverse partners come together to evaluate how a proposed plan, project or policy—in a variety of domains ranging from transportation to housing—will affect community health if implemented. Recommendations based on community knowledge, narratives and quantitative data are provided to inform and improve decision-making processes.

Community Informed Decision Making

NMHEP uses a unique, multi-stakeholder statewide approach tailored to grassroots community assets and need. This approach draws on the collective strengths of diverse partners and allies. Cross-sector relationships foster the leveraging of expertise and resources. Decisions are made collectively and transparently. The Partnership highly values cultural knowledge and engages communities by building on their assets to advocate for policy change. Groups directly affected by proposed policies and projects are afforded a seat at the table, so they can participate from planning to implementation. Community members directly impacted by health inequities hold active leadership roles.

Community Narratives

The following recent cases demonstrate how NMHEP’s partners are actively engaged in educational policy and advocacy in their communities to ensure that health is considered in decision-making processes. continued on page 8

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Green Fire Times • April 2015

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April 2015 Green Fire Times  

Featuring: The New Mexico Health Equity Partnership, Uranium Workers at the Roundhouse, Drug Addiction: A Rising Scourge in Northern New Me...